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eG Food Blog: Panaderia Canadiense (2011)


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Howdy all!

I'm Panaderia Canadiense, aka Elizabeth, and welcome to my blog coming straight over the airwaves from Ambato, Ecuador, South America.

A bit of background about me: I'm originally from northern Alberta, Canada; when my folks retired I got the opportunity to tag along on the vacation (our first in something like 20 years), and we all fell so much in love with Ecuador that we decided to change countries. Mom was her family's dessert-maker from the time that she could work an oven without burning herself, and Dad has his cordon bleu; we're all culinarily adventurous folks and what comes out of the kitchen tends to be fusion. Apart from baked goods, we rarely use recipes, so what you'll see in terms of home cooking will most likely be one-offs and riffs on various themes. There is very little that you won't see on our table; the exceptions are eggs (I'm violently allergic), tripes (can't stand the texture), and most pork (Mom can't handle the fats - no gallbladder). We have wholeheartedly embraced Ecuadorian cuisine, and various dishes that we now eat are influenced by the regional dishes of places we've lived or visited.

A bit of background on where I am: Ambato is located almost exactly in the geographical center of Ecuador, and it's a reasonably true statement to say that most roads in the country will eventually end up here. It's certainly the transport hub for all goods coming from the south of the country to Quito, anything coming from the central-south Amazon into the Sierra, everything from the north going south or to the coast or central Amazon, and almost everything from the central-south coastal provinces into the Sierra. It's a market town, and the rhythm of life here is very much marked by the cycle of market days. Mondays are Gran Feria (big market day), and during Gran Feria the city very much resembles an anthill that's been violently poked.

I'll be taking you into the fray on Monday - Ambato boasts what is quite possibly Ecuador's largest free-for-all farmer's market, and that's where I get my produce for the week, as well as specialty flours, spices, nuts, and dried fruits. I'll be trying my best to do a lot of "eat on the street" during the blog - Ambato has an astounding variety of foods available from street vendors and pushcarts.

Along with all of that, you'll get to see whatever is ordered from my catering bakery in the upcoming week. I can tell you for sure there's an afternoon trip to the hotsprings town of Baños, which is famous for its pulled-panela taffies and other sugarcane confections. I may also go as far as Rio Negro in search of a good, fresh trout.

Oh, and I almost forgot! The week of 30 October in Ecuador is an extended public holiday for the celebration of Dia de los Difuntos (the day of the dead) - and it's a food festival as well. I'll explain more about the traditions and the associated tasties as we approach November 2. As a baker, this week is one of the busiest of the year for me.

Of course, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have, and if there's anything specific you'd like to see foodwise please let me know. Also, I tend to lapse into partial Spanish in food descriptions, and if I forget to translate anything or you want something explained, tell me!

I'll be back with breakfast in a bit!

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Actually, strangely enough I'm tolerant of eggs when they're in baked goods - I'd presume that it's because my specific allergy is to albumen and this is present in sufficiently small quantities and sufficiently denatured in baked things that it doesn't harm me. However, a plate of scrambled eggs, or a currasco (pity - that's steak a la parilla with a sunny-side-up egg on top; I've always wanted to try it) will cause me to... hmm, what's the polite way of putting it?

Ah yes. Bazooka barf.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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And on a more pleasant note... Come on in my kitchen!

This is an absurdly large kitchen by Ecuadorian standards, and was one of the reasons for renting this house. I've also got stupendous clearance (this is standard in Ecuadorian kitchens) - I can tilt my Kitchenaid 45 without even whispering about scraping the cabinets.

My stove and principal work area - I cook with gas (LPG), which is the countrywide standard.

Kitchen1.jpg

More of the work area - please excuse the mess.

Kitchen2.jpg

The sink-end counter and the fridge, again, excuse the mess. My liquor "cabinet" is hiding behind that pot.

Kitchen3.jpg

Here's a closeup of the liquor cabinet - the Moccahino Chocolate Liqueur is absent from this shot.

LiquorCabinet.jpg

And for those of you who like to snoop around in the cupboards:

Baking - top shelf cocoa nibs, fondant in tubs, springform pans. Bottom shelf everything else, including blonde panela in convenient 1 lb bags.

BakingCuboard.jpg

Spices - top shelf sweet and bulk bags, bottom shelf savoury, vinegars, aliños, and soy.

SpiceCupboard.jpg

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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PC, delighted you're blogging this week and looking forward to Ecuador. How long have your lived there? And can you explain a bit more about some of the spirits in your liquor supply, I recognize some of them but not all.

I've been in Ecuador for 4 years and a bit; in Ambato for 2 of those.

The liquor cabinet, from left to right, are the following:

1. San Miguel Gold Rum - a nice all-purpose domestic rum for everything but Daiquiris (and if I'm drinking those, I'll pick up a suitable white rum for the occasion.)

2. Zhumir Paute Aguardiente - the best of the commercial pure-cane aguardientes. It's similar to high-end Cachaca; I use it in cooking.

3. Soberano Brandy de Jerez - fairly fine Spanish brandy from the port of Jeréz, for soaking fruitcakes.

4. Napoleon Gold VSOP Brandy - fairly coarse French brandy, for cooking.

5. St. Remy VSOP Cognac - self explanatory. For sipping.

Not pictured is ILSA Moccachino, which is a domestic coconut-cream and chocolate liqueur I'm fond of for punching up hot chocolate and coffee. The liquor cabinet expands and contracts depending on the season - as it's coming into summer and Christmas, the brandies and their derivatives are more heavily represented. In the wintertime, dark rums dominate. And although I'm almost too fond of Margaritas and Martinis, tequila and gin will rarely grace my cabinet - it's far too tempting to do away with an entire bottle over a weekend, and I do try to budget myself.

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Breakfast!

Sundays, being the last day before market day, bring about a condition in the pantry that we call "Sunday Fridge Syndrome" - there's very little left. Hence, Sunday brekkies tend to be a bit inventive. Today was a classic - peanut-butter, manjar, and chocolate syrup sandwiches, on day-old Pan Tapado, the basic enriched white bread bun sold by the bakery up the hill. Pan Tapado is one of the most traditional examples of Pan Ambateño (Ambato bread), for which the city is justifiably famous. It's a lard-enriched bun with a milk-egg glaze top and a medium crumb, which sounds totally unromantic but is in fact very tasty and remains fluffy and soft for a couple of days.

SundayBreakfast.jpg

Also on the plate for today is tomorrow's delivery to Baños: 7-grain bread, everything bagels, a fudgy brownie, and some classic oat cookies. I'll check back in with progress pics on the bread and final pics of the bagels and sweeties.

In the midst of this, I'll also be making a trip to the Bolívar fish market, which is largest and freshest on Sundays, to find something tasty for dinner.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Looking forward to as much as you can show us.

In terms of your baking - is it catered by request only or do you have a shop? Are you able to bake from the home kitchen or are there regulations that require a commercial kitchen? Would love to hear about how you started the biz in a new country. Also - did you pick up the language or were you conversant before settling there?

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Looking forward to as much as you can show us.

In terms of your baking - is it catered by request only or do you have a shop? Are you able to bake from the home kitchen or are there regulations that require a commercial kitchen? Would love to hear about how you started the biz in a new country. Also - did you pick up the language or were you conversant before settling there?

My bakery is only by request - in a sense, I run one of the most exclusive bakeries in the country (a fact that is not lost on my clientele - they're paying extra for the luxury product delivered to their door by the baker!) I am absolutely able to do this from my home kitchen because the things I sell are classed as artesanal baked goods. Once a year I might get inspected, but it hasn't happened yet. Notwithstanding, I maintain the kitchen as a cleanroom environment, as much as is possible.

I actually started up because of cookies. In Ecuador, the concept of cookies is very much modeled on European-type biscuits: hard, crunchy things. I started, out of pure culinary homesickness, to bake chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies; when friends came over for cafecito (a meal or series of meals roughly correspondent to teatime, which, depending on the day, the host, and the guests, can last up to 12 hours) I'd serve them the chewy cookies, and very quickly word got out. I started the bakery formally about two years ago (inspections, taxes, etc) and have been growing steadily ever since.

The order that I'm currently working on is going to a pair of restaurants in Baños, a hotsprings tourist town about 45 minutes downhill of me.

As for Spanish, I picked that up as I went along. When we first came to Ecuador, I knew basic phrases (¿Donde está el hotél?) and the numbers up to about 50; everything else I have learned on the fly; I was conversant in about 4 weeks. I'm now fluent enough to be considered a simulntaneous translator by my embassy. I should point out that Ecuadorian Spanish is very different from Castillian or even Mexican Spanish. For one thing, the lisp of Castillian is absent (largely because the Spanish here was established before the lisping king took power, and Ecuadorians took great pride in preserving the original sound), and there is a large proportion of Kichua and Shuara words in the lexicon. Hence we've got some marvellously colourful phrases in Ecuadorian Spanish that don't even exist in neigbouring Colombia. A good example is the Ecuadorian word for the kind of bender that leaves you with the feeling that a small animal has died in your mouth. This is Chuchaqui (choo-CHA-kee), which in Kichua literally means "all fucked up." It's a verb; the actual process of going on such a bender is "enchuchar."

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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And under the heading of "better late than never" - lunch! With the extreme laziness of Sunday Fridge, this was defrosted Empanadas de Verde (see the eG Cookoff on filled savoury pastry about these). Also, tropichips! These are fried camote (sweet potato), yuca (manioc), and green plantain.

SundayLunch1.jpg

SundayLunch2.jpg

Also, because this was happening just before and after lunch, the breadmaking process for 7-grain bread (for those who are curious, the 7 grains are: wheat, gold peas, barley, quinua, oats, flax, and black sesame).

Bread-Ingredients.jpg

Breadmaking-Ingredients2.jpg

This bread begins with a fresh sponge, shown here before and after its bubbling time.

SpongeBeforeAfter.jpg

This then gets filled with the grains and more whole-wheat flour and massaged until it's vaguely coherent and sticky.

Breadmaking1.jpg

And then that's kneaded until it's elastic (with the barley, it's never going to be unsticky)

Breadmaking2.jpg

That rises, and then gets punched, weighed out, and formed up, and finally baked.

Breadmaking3.jpg

Bread-Formed.jpg

Bread-Finished.jpg

And here are the other breadly things, as well as the cookies that happened in the "while rising" stage.

Bagels-Cooling.jpg

Cookies2.jpg

Cookies1.jpg

edited to fix an issue with attachments.

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I actually started up because of cookies. In Ecuador, the concept of cookies is very much modeled on European-type biscuits: hard, crunchy things. I started, out of pure culinary homesickness, to bake chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies; when friends came over for cafecito (a meal or series of meals roughly correspondent to teatime, which, depending on the day, the host, and the guests, can last up to 12 hours) I'd serve them the chewy cookies, and very quickly word got out. I started the bakery formally about two years ago (inspections, taxes, etc) and have been growing steadily ever since.

Can you explain more about how cafecito can go on for 12 hours? Is that normal?

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I actually started up because of cookies. In Ecuador, the concept of cookies is very much modeled on European-type biscuits: hard, crunchy things. I started, out of pure culinary homesickness, to bake chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies; when friends came over for cafecito (a meal or series of meals roughly correspondent to teatime, which, depending on the day, the host, and the guests, can last up to 12 hours) I'd serve them the chewy cookies, and very quickly word got out. I started the bakery formally about two years ago (inspections, taxes, etc) and have been growing steadily ever since.

Can you explain more about how cafecito can go on for 12 hours? Is that normal?

Completely normal on Sundays in any town or city from Ambato on south. In Loja, I have personally attended cafecitos that started around 11 in the morning and ran until 2 am. Cafecito is a social gathering as well as a meal, particularly on weekends; Ambato and Loja both all but shut down around noonish as everybody heads for grandma's or mom's house for cafecito. It's a way for families to catch up (and families here are HUGE - my marathon cafecito had about 25 guests), as well as a way for friends to meet and share food and laughs. Weekday cafecito is typically a one-hour meal, just for contrasts. Generally, the meal begins with coffee (preparation varying by host or hostess; I've been served everything from a cup of hot milk with a jar of Nescafe to pure essence of coffee in hot cream), cookies, and other small sweet finger foods. After the sweets have been consumed comes a course of fresh bread and fresh cheese (queso fresco), often with handmade conserves or pickles. More coffee, more conversation, and a light supper is served - again, depending on the host or hostess, the definition of "light" can be a simple soup or a four-course production number. Chocolate is served after this meal. Then more conversation, more chocolate, and dessert. You can easily see how a weekend cafecito could stretch for hours!

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Come on down, Kay! And anyone else who cares to visit, too. Ecuador's a fantastic country. It's also worth thinking that now that you're heading into winter up north, we're heading into summer here. The best weather is clearly from October-March.

Heidih - that ball of dough weighed in at 8 lbs 1 oz. I maintain that as long as I continue to make bread and walk to the store (very uphill), I will never need to visit the gym.

And then? Dinner. I never did make it to the fish market (life happens, eh?), so dinner was roast chicken breast with macaroni and cheese, and some steamed cauliflower and asparagus.

Afterwards, I made the brownie for tomorrow's order.

I shall be back with pictures in the morning; I'm having slow connectivity issues at the moment.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Teapot.jpg

This morning, I'd like to talk to you about tisane - I promised in the teaser thread that I'd explain a little more about Guayusa (pronounced why-OO-sa), which is one of my preferred drinks.

Guayusa is a tree in the holly family, and is closely related to the bush that produces Yerba Mate; it's native to Ecuador's Amazon provinces, where it's been used as a tea for centuries (probably longer; the Shuara don't keep written records). It's said that a cup of Guayusa a day will make you live forever. Like all caffeine drinks, it's habit-forming. Unlike other caffeine drinks, it's only widely available in Ecuador, and only then in the Amazon and provinces that border it. My upstairs neighbours' parents are from Tena, in the northern Amazon, and they often (and very kindly, might I add) bring me back a string of leaves - I'm addicted from time spent in Puyo (2 hours down the road from Ambato, in the central Amazon). The tree is not known in the wild, only in cultivation - suggesting that people have been addicted to it for a very long time.

Teaser2.JPG

Guayusa can be brewed both green (from fresh leaves) and black (from dried leaves); the two beverages have extremely different flavours. Green Guayusa has a pleasant, sweet character similar to fresh green tea with notes of tropical flowers and vanilla. It's normally made by boiling the fresh leaves in abundant water. Black Guayusa is steeped like tea, and is akin to roasted green tea in the first stage of steeping (shown in my teapot above). However, to truly develop the flavour a steep of more than an hour is necessary, until the beverage turns a rich red-brown. At this point it will taste like a really good pu-erh with hints of coffee, chocolate, and a nice deep earth note, while retaining as the initially sensed flavours everything of the green. I prefer black brew to green simply because it's more complex and a bit stronger. However, it's also worth noting that despite a high caffeine content, Guayusa never gives me the jim-jams the way coffee does.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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... painfully slow for reasons I can't immediately fathom.

If Sunday's the big day off, it's when all the heavy YouTubing and Facebooking and the like go down - that's the sort of peak time that brings down net speed in a whole area these days, I think.

The blog's shaping up nicely even this early - your food looks great. Do you fold the flattened multigrain in thirds, first one side in and then the other, to get that effect ? Or something else ?

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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The multigrain is braided probably exactly as you're thinking - one strip diagonally across the bread, crossed by the the one from the opposite side; repeat until you run out of bread to braid. Once the entire loaf is formed, I roll it over lightly (use the weight of the loaf, all 2.5 lbs of it, to even the braid), then it's slipped into the pan and allowed to proof until it's 1" over the pan rim. The 7-grain doesn't have the same kind of oven spring as the honey-whole wheat it's based on, but it's a denser loaf anyway - I'll likely be making honey whole wheat for my own consumption later this week, and you'll get see the difference in loft. Braiding the loaves all comes down to a happy accident, actually. I used to simply form a cylinder and pop it in with a few slashes, but I was reading something about braided puff-pastry coffee cakes and it occurred to me that it would a) increase the crust volume and b) look pretty awesome on a loaf of sandwich bread, so I gave it a shot and I haven't looked back. Of course, it helps that the braid itself acts as a slicing guide.....

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Yo quero enchuchar con Guayusa durante sus proxima cafecito, por favor. :cool:

So the artesanal classification allows for home-based production? That is most logical in a country with deep culinary tradition and trust in it's home cooks. Laws regarding the selling of home-prepared foods are finally relaxing here in North Eastern USA.

Looking forward excitedly to this SA foodblog!

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

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